Touch Up Tuning
So, here we are, new day of recording. We kind of got to the point where the tuning was pretty cool. Last night we got a good basic mic setup. One thing we did though, last night so that we could just get a jump on things was we added a bunch more microphones. We added some rooms, some underneath the tom microphones and just a few more snare mics, just stuff that we wanted to play around with, but one of the first things we need to really do today is check the tuning of the drums because more than likely they slipped overnight, that just happens. And also, we want to see where we were yesterday, even worse with the song in the first place, so that we're not just making bad decisions. I went ahead and I cut out some samples we took yesterday, and I put them against the pre-pro tracks that the band gave me. Now, this is not in time with the music. We're just listening to see if this works.
If there's conflicting pitches. Like we talked about yesterday with the tuning in general, the tu...
ning to the song, our specific notes, isn't really a philosophy that I pursue, but you do want to stay away from the conflicting notes that would be the key of the song. This particular song is in the key of C and it's metal so it's minor. We're gonna check the pitches on the drums to make sure we're not hitting any notes that would be conflicting with that key, which mainly would be the major second or the major seventh. Probly the major seventh would be the big one to look out for.
So, we're just gonna check these pitches real quick and see where we're at.
Okay, so here are the toms. I'll let you guys hear the toms against the music and then I'll show you. (instrumental metal music) Okay, so they sound okay but we brought this tuner up.
Notice that our rack tom is a B.
As you guys can see here. A B.
That's the major seventh of this particular tune, so we have the choice of either dropping it down a half step to go to the minor seventh or bringing it up a half step to go to C, which is the key of the tune. With drums in particular, it's a lot easier to go up than it is to go down. We're gonna try to just, when we get out there, raise this up a half step, which shouldn't actually be all that much in the tuning side of things, it's very easy to go a half step with very minor tweaks, so, we'll do that.
Alright, and here is the floor tom. And just, ProTools users, this is a plug-in called TL Tune. It comes with ProTools.
You can use it for guitars and all kinds of stuff.
Yeah, this is a good one. Alright, here's a floor tom. (drums pounding)
So that's coming in at an F, which is the fourth of the key.
That's a power note. That's good.
Now, the thing also to keep in mind is between F and B, that's a tri-tone, a part on the tom, so I don't know if we want to tri-tone a part between toms.
No. Ultimately, if you're using two toms, you want to shoot for something like a perfect fourth or a perfect fifth gives you enough room between the two drums where you can hear distinctly between them when they're played in a row like that, or when you're played together, you get something that is harmonious and sounds pleasing to the ear.
I do gotta say though, I feel like if we had to go with this, it would probably be okay 'cause you saw him sound good. Just. (instrumental metal music) That doesn't sound bad, but I think it'll probly just sound better to go up.
Yeah, and if he's playing a lot of tom stuff, then eventually that rack tom will start to irk us and listening to it over and over and over again.
Yeah. Okay, so floor tom, we just gotta make sure it's still at the F. And rack tom will go up a half step and we'll check the snare now. Same method, we'll just put TL Tune on it. First I'm gonna just play it against the music. Just so that we can hear if we even like it against the music, because all this talk about pitch will make no difference if we think it sounds horrible. (instrumental metal music) Actually, I think that kinda rules and will be a great sounding snare. Disregard what I copied on there, that's not important. And then the pitch of that is, let's see here. I'm gonna just reset it. (instrumental metal music)
We're at the fifth of the tune, which is definitely a power note. Yeah, so we tuned to the drum and we ended up somewhere in the key of the song. Not intentional, it's just where the drum sounded the best and where actually happened to be in the key of the song. A great coincidence. Was it necessary? Not at all. But, we're close, so might as well just go ahead and keep it where it's at, or at least close to where it's at.
And on the bass drum, let's see here. Reset it again.
And that is the--
Major seventh. Minor seventh.
No, minor seventh. We're still in the key, and honestly it's so short, you're not really gonna hear a note as much. He's not playing ridiculously fast to where it's gonna be kind of a sine wave or a square wave sound. I think we'll be alright.
It'll be fine. I think basically, as long as we can get the snare, if it shifted, if we could just get it back to where it was right here, keep the kick, make sure that if it shifted that we're back to here, and floor tom back to where it was last night and just bring that rack tom up.
Rack tom up a little bit.
Yeah, and sweet we should be good to go after that.
Cool, alright, I'll head out there and we'll get these things tuned up.
One thing that I think is super important to note about this is that if we were pressed for time, which I guess we kind of are, but if we were pressed for time as in, we had to track now, no choice, we could get away with this, I mean these drum sounds are fine. There's nothing wrong with them. But, it just so happens that by coincidence, we got in the key of the song on it really really close, and with that rack tom just being a half step off, it's gonna take what, 10 minutes for us to fix it? Why not do it. It's one of those things where down the road, when it gets to the mix, I could see it being something that annoys me and that makes me get just mad at myself for not taking the 10 minutes, because it's such a small thing. When you hear the cliche about a great recording is an accumulation of 1,000 little things, well, this is one of those 1,000 little things. We could get away with it, but it's literally just a half step, it'll literally just take a few minutes, why not just do it. We predict that it really will sound just a little bit better, why not do that. Whenever you're presented with these choices where you could go with something, but you could take the extra 10 minutes to make it just 2% better, do it, and do that across all the instruments, across everything that you're doing, you end up with a really good recording. It's more of a discipline thing, a habit to get into when you're recording, rather than an issue of how much better are we gonna actually make this tom sound. I predict we're gonna make this tom sound just a few percentage points better, but I think that the discipline of tweaking everything you possibly can to make it that little bit, just give it that little bit more edge, just a little bit more quality, is what will have you end up with a really, really great final product. Alright, what do you want to hear first?
Alright, let's start with snare.
Okay. And the way this works is he's gonna hear it and then he's gonna hit it back. So. Hit the snare. (drum pounding) Okay, cool. Alright, I will play you the sample, and then you hit it back.
Okay. (drums pounding)
Did you hear that?
I heard the sample, yes.
Okay, great, okay. I'll play it and then when I stop, you hit it and we'll see where we're at.
Okay. (drums pounding)
Real close, man. (drums pounding) Can you play the double hits
like on the sample?
Yep. (drums pounding)
You might be a hair high.
Like a hair.
When we're doing this, say on a drum set that's not cooperating, it can be a very tedious process. But this is the kind of thing that makes a drum setup session just take a long time. When you hear about sessions that take three or four days to get drum tones, it's stuff like this. Also, when a drummer has like five toms and two snares. You good to go?
'Kay. (drums pounding)
Hold on, let's do that again. (drums pounding) It's really close, let me record that. And then let's compare it side by side, okay?
Rollin'. (drums pounding) Yeah, come on in here real quick.
What I'm doing is I'm pasting yesterday's right next to today's so we can hear them back to back. (drums pounding)
Oh yeah, a little low.
The first one is yesterday.
Okay. (drums pounding) Yeah, a little low.
Okay. (instrumental metal music)
That's now, let's check out yesterday. (instrumental metal music) Yeah, I think yesterday had a little more body, I like the crack better now, I like the body better yesterday. What do you think?
Yeah, I think we should shoot for yesterday, it seems to fit a little bit better. (instrumental metal music)
Yeah it's a little too sharp.
Okay, cool. Okay I'll play yesterday and then you hit today.
Okay. (drums pounding)
That is really close, let me record that and we'll compare it. Rolling. (drums pounding) Cool, come on in.
You can just play it back for me, I'll hear it here and make an adjustment.
Okay, here goes. So, first thing you'll hear is yesterday then today.
Okay. (drums pounding) It's still just a hair.
It's damn close, dude.
Yeah, it's still just a hair low, I can get it.
Yup. I hope that those of you guys watching this class can hear the difference. It's very, very minor, but this is a level of detail that we like to get this to. Okay, you want me to record you?
Rollin'. (drums pounding) That's just about identical.
Yep, I think I got this one little tweak right here.
Okay, let's try this.
Rolling. (drums pounding) Just come in here real quick and hear that. Pretty much sounds like the same thing, man. (drums pounding)
I can still hear a hair lower, but there's a little bit more body to it in the newer stuff. (drums pounding) It's really kinda how you hit it. Those last two hits sound almost identical to the first two. Put the last two up. Or move that one over. (drums pounding) Yeah, those, just the last. (drums pounding) Yeah, okay so (drums pounding).
Those four sound almost identical.
Yeah. (drums pounding) I feel like if--
It might be a little higher. It depends on how you hit it, 'cause the first two are a little lower, but then it's very finicky with the sticks being so big.
I was gonna say that if you were to play it the exact same way in the exact same position,
It would sound the same.
It would probly sound, yeah.
So we can roll with that one?
I think so, I mean. (drums pounding) Yeah, that sounds. Sounds fine.
Would you care to explain what you did, tuning-wise?
Yeah, I just went around with very small adjustments on each lug, like very, the smallest adjustment you could make on each one, and that's part of the reason I used the larger key is so, not only can I feel it better, but I can also see the key moving a little bit better, 'cause it's a lot more exaggerated on what I'm doing, so I just did the smallest adjustments around. I actually tuned more in the player side of things because that's typically on a snare drum doing rim shots where the head will be stretched out a little bit further because we're putting so much pressure on one side, so I spent a little bit more time on the drummer side than I did on the other side, but I did hit every lug just a little bit, kind of brought it out. 'Cause we did play a lot last night after we stopped filming to kind of get these other mics up and the head settled into the drum a little bit more, it kinda got broken in and in that process it kinda dropped just a little bit. I expect the toms to be a little bit lower than yesterday as well, just because of that thing. And, you gotta we aware of like temperature changes and humidity changes. If the room is not kept at a constant temperature, we will notice a difference in the way that the drums are reacting to the room. Like, at your place, you notice how we have to keep it at like, what was it, 74 to 76?
And because if it goes any colder, the drums change drastically, and if it gets any warmer they change drastically, so we have to keep it right in that temperature range for them to really sound great at your place down in Florida, so, all that stuff factors into what the drums sound like and luckily the weather's been pretty consistent here and it feels the same as it was yesterday, so we just have to worry about the player abuse we put into the heads yesterday.
Well and the good news too, is now that we have this, if we have to change a head for some reason.
We can always go back.
Yep. Do we have lug locks?
Yes we do. On the snare drum though, because of the design of this drum, I'm going to have to try a different type of lug lock to see if it works and if not, this might be one of those things that we just have to pay attention to during the tracking and that'll be my job during the tracking is just to make sure the snare drum and the drums are sounding the same and if I notice a difference I'll go out there and touch 'em up during tracking.
Okay, so that being the case, let's take snare samples now, the way it is. Those of you who aren't familiar with lug locks, they literally are what they sound like, they're these little plastic pieces that you put on the lugs. You can order them at Guitar Center or anywhere. Once you like the tuning, you just attach them to the lugs, and they will hold it. I mean, it's not gonna hold forever, but it will prolong the amount of time that that drum stays in tune. Matt?
Are you gonna want a click or.
No I can do it as long as I have the rooms up in my ears I'll be able to tell the decay time.
Okay, cool. So you know the drill.
Yeah, you want five of each?
Give me one second, please. Rollin'.
Snare, soft. (drums pounding) Medium soft. (drums pounding) Medium. (drums pounding) Medium hard. (drums pounding) Hard. (drums pounding)
You guys notice he's letting the drum ring out all the way 'til it's dead, that's super important. Normally I'll put a click track through to the drummer if the guy doesn't have a very good internal metronome, but Matt's pro. Knows what he's doing.
Do you want to attempt to lock it with whatever that different system was you were.
Yeah, I'm gonna check it out real quick and see if it's gonna line up.
Okay, yeah. Hopefully it does, if not we'll make it through.
Alright, so these are Tuner Fish locks, which is a brand new lock that I've just, I've heard about, and this is my first time using them and I've noticed that they're pretty cool. But, some of these lugs aren't necessarily lining up as well with them, so I'm gonna put 'em on the ones that I can on the drummer side to try to keep the drum in tune. And it looks like these two right here where his left hand is gonna go are working pretty well. So, I'm gonna keep 'em on those, I'll see if I can get one more on, maybe. Otherwise I'll just pay attention to the drum. This drum seems to hold its tension pretty well, so I don't think we're gonna have too much of a problem with the drum slipping, it'll just be head tension more than anything else. But that's my job is to listen to this stuff while we're tracking to make sure that it's all in tune. Alright, so I was able to get two on right at the playing area, so those should hold this area which is where he's gonna be doing most of his rim shots anyway, right in here, so this is where the head's gonna feel the most stretching, 'cause we're coming from this area, pushing down on the hoop here every time he hits, so the head's gonna stretch from this area so this'll keep the tension rods themselves from loosening up, so that we'll make sure that the only factor that's gonna make the head drop would be the head stretching itself and not any mechanical parts coming loose. Okay, I'm ready for the rim shots now. Alright, here we go, rim shots take two. (drums pounding)
These are really good. Alright, give me one second, I'll get us ready for toms, okay?
You want to start with the rack, you want to hear the rack?
Yeah, let's do the rack.
Okay, one second. Okay, here's the rack tom. (drums pounding) Hang on, I need to solo that so that I'm not hearing the rooms.
Alright, do you want to record this after it too so we can listen?
Record this as well so we can listen to it back to back.
Will do. Go for it. (drums pounding) Hit a little harder. You were hitting harder yesterday. (drums pounding) Okay, cool. Alright, do you want to come in here and hear it, or do you want it in the headphones?
Just play it back in the headphones. Headphones is fine.
So I'll put yesterday, then today. (drums pounding)
So we're pretty close.
Yeah, that's really close.
Okay, but we do have to take it up a half step.
Yes we do.
Okay, I'll just do that real quick.
Bummer, 'cause that sounds good, but. (drums pounding) Check out how close that is to. (drums pounding) That tom barely slipped. Okay, go. (drums pounding) Alright, let's listen, I'm gonna play yesterday then that. (drums pounding) That is a little higher.
Okay. What is it doing on the tuner, is it still coming in at a B?
I'm about to check that, give me one second. (drums pounding) It's a B, it's still registering a B.
Alright, so I'm gonna have to take the drum off real quick and tune it up.
Alright, so we're a quarter step away, which means I'm gonna have to do a little bit on the bottom head as well. To take a drum up a half step is not a lot of, it doesn't take a lot of tuning, but it does take a little bit on both heads to kinda get it up a little bit, so I'm just gonna go around placing the head on my knee to muffle up the top head and I'm gonna go around the bottom and take it up just a little bit. (tapping drum) Ever so slightly. (tapping drum) Alright, and then I'll do the same thing with the batter head. (drums pounding) And then we'll check it again on the stand. One thing I did not talk about yesterday was the way some of these companies design their tom mounts and some of these resonate or sustain more depending on where you mount them on the tom mount itself. With the Tama stuff the further up you go, the shorter the drum will sound and the further down we go on the stand, the more sustain we have, so we were down pretty much close to the bottom. (drums pounding) Alright, and now that sounds a little bit better, so we'll check that with AL.
Alright. (drums pounding) One more time. (drums pounding) Okay, hang on. Okay, here's yesterday, then right now. (drums pounding) Too high, it's registering an A.
Is it really? Alright.
Yeah, it was almost there before I think. Just went a little too far.
Okay, not a problem.
Okay. (drums pounding) Okay, hang on. (drums pounding) It's showing a G sharp.
Okay, well at least we're out of the range of the B, which is good.
Yes. (drums pounding)
Let me check it one more time for evenness.
Okay. (drums pounding) Go for it. (drums pounding) Okay, one second. And that is showing an A sharp, but let's listen back to back. (drums pounding)
I think we're safe. (drums pounding) As long as the tone is good.
Come in here for a second.
I want you to check this out with me real quick. Yesterday. (drums pounding) Right now. (drums pounding) There you go, there it is.
Bravo. (drums pounding)
Yeah, it's probably a little flat, but it's still C, so we're good. (drums pounding)
There you go.
Yeah, C, cool. Alright, so let's head over to the floor tom then.
Alright, so for the toms, we're able to use the standard lug locks, which are these little plastic squares, like AL was describing, and you just put 'em on the drum. Basically what they do is they just keep tension between the hoop and the drum itself. You might have to cut them if they're a little bit too long in their normal state, so I'll just take a little bit off here. Yep, there we go. Do that, check each lug and then, maybe cut a little bit off if needed.
Okay, recording. (drums pounding) Alright, let's hear them back to back. (drums pounding) That sounds really, really close.
Okay, let me just check and make sure they're even and then we'll lock it down.
Okay. Recording. (drums pounding) One second. (drums pounding) Yesterday then today. (drums pounding) Try hitting a little harder. I'll record you now, 'cause it sounds like you were hitting a little harder yesterday. I'm hearing more attack. I just want to make sure that it's just the force of the hit.
And nothing else.
Rolling. (drums pounding) I think they sound pretty much identical. Do you want to come in here and listen?
Okay. (drums pounding) Almost. There's like one tiny little low tone in today's.
Alright. (drums pounding) It's a little bit lower.
You hear that?
Yeah. (drums pounding)
Yeah, that's a little lower. I can take 'em up a little bit.
Rolling. (drums pounding) Sounded a little weird.
Hang on, one second. (drums pounding) Sounds like you went up just a little too far.
Just a little. (drums pounding) We're almost there, guys.
Alright, let's try that.
Rolling. (drums pounding) Alright, that sounds great.
You want to lock that?
Okay cool. And then we'll take tom samples.
One of the reasons that we're making sure to get to the pitches that we are is that we went over it with John Brown from the band and he liked what he was hearing, but he wanted that rack tom to go to a other pitch, so this is something that we're not just arbitrarily deciding.
One second. We're not just arbitrarily deciding that we like this and so we're keeping it. We do like this, but the decision maker in the band likes it, too. That always helps. Rolling.
Tom one, soft. (drums pounding) Medium soft. (drums pounding) Medium. (drums pounding) Medium hard. (drums pounding) Hard. (drums pounding) Floor tom, soft. (drums pounding) Medium soft. (drums pounding) Medium. (drums pounding) Medium hard. (drums pounding) Hard. (drums pounding)
Can I get a few more of the super hard hits?
On each one?
Okay. (drums pounding) Floor tom, extra hard. (drums pounding)
Okay, so you want to record the kick and then we'll compare it.
So, rolling. (drums pounding) Yesterday and today. (drums pounding) Sounds identical.
Okay. Sample it?
Yeah, I would say so. I mean, do you want to hear it? It sounds great.
I'll trust you, if you think it's good, it sounds good to me.
Yeah, it sounds the same to me, so.
Yeah, let's do the sample. Give me one second to set that up.
Do you want right foot and left foot, or just right foot?
Give me right foot and left foot. Don't worry about super soft or anything, but give me like twice as many hard hits as you normally would.
Okay. Kick drum, medium hard, right foot. (drums pounding)
There's a good kick. (drums pounding) Yeah. (drums pounding)
Hard, right foot. (drums pounding)
Who knows, we might even be able to use that kick. (drums pounding) I'm serious. (drums pounding)
Extra hard, right foot. (drums pounding) Left foot, medium hard. (drums pounding) Left foot, hard. (drums pounding) Left foot, extra hard. (drums pounding) Extra hard, left foot. (drums pounding)
That's a good kick. (drums pounding) Awesome.
Great. I guess let's move on to the next phase of life.